LAS VEGAS — Ready to play alongside Kawhi Leonard Y Paul George the next season, John Wall he said he’s thrilled to join a loaded LA Clippers team that won’t need him to be “Batman every night for us to win.”
In his first comments since officially signing a two-year, $13.2 million deal with Los Angeles, Wall believes he can help fill the Clippers’ missing component at point guard.
The Clippers are expected to contend for a championship with Leonard’s return after missing all of last season with a torn right ACL. Wall said he is delighted to be joining the most talented roster he has been a part of in his career.
“I don’t have to do it every night, I don’t have to be Batman every night for us to win,” Wall said Saturday at the Las Vegas Summer League. “That’s the ultimate goal for me [en] this part of my career, I don’t want to have to be Batman every night to try and win. In the team that we have, I think anyone can be Batman.”
Wall, who turns 32 in September, hasn’t played in the NBA since April 23, 2021. He sat out last season with the Houston Rockets, who were rebuilding with younger players.
Wall has only played a total of 40 games, all during the 2020-21 season with Houston, in the past three seasons. He missed the entire 2019-20 season due to an Achilles tendon injury. Additionally, he only played in a combined 73 games during the 2017-18 and 2018-2019 seasons due to injuries.
“When I’m between those four lines, I don’t have an injury, I don’t think about it,” Wall said of past injuries that include knee, Achilles tendon and heel issues. “I go out and compete. I work hard every day to try to get back into this position to get back in the league.”
“My last three years, I was in the darkest place I’ve ever been. I don’t think a lot of people could have gotten over what I went through: losing my mom, losing my grandma, tearing my Achilles tendon, going through all that adversity and just trying to find myself and then get some of that love more than anything that was taken from me.”
The five-time All-Star, who averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 2020-21 for the Rockets, said he was looking to join a team where he wouldn’t have to carry the load and could thrive alongside the talent.
“I didn’t really care about other teams,” Wall said of those who were interested in him before he decided to join the Clippers. “The other teams are great, and I’m glad the teams wanted to come for me, but I looked at the picture like, where can I go? [donde] I don’t have to be the John Wall of 2016 and I have to carry the load and do all those [cosas] and have the pressure on me. I believe that [LA] I was without the point guard part, and that’s a great situation for me to be there.”
League sources have said Wall will compete for the starting point guard job with Reggie Jackson. Wall welcomed the competition and said he is fine with any role he is asked to play.
“For me, I’m happy to play basketball again,” Wall said. “I’m a competitor. I know a lot of people ask me, ‘Are you mad if you start or don’t start?’ I don’t care. I’m a competitor, and I just want a chance to go out there and compete for a spot, and if I get it, I get it. And if I don’t, we know how talented Reggie is. Jackson and what he’s done for this team and helping these guys, especially when Kawhi and PG were away. Even when they were [saludables], it’s a great piece. Anyone who gets the spot is great.”
However, Wall made it clear that he can still play at the level he was in 2016-17, when he averaged 23.1 points and 10.7 assists for the Washington Wizards.
“I still have all the stuff I had in 2016,” he said. “But yeah, I only played 40 games [hace dos temporadas]but last year it wasn’t my fault or my choice, and I couldn’t control that.”
And with this Clippers team, Wall thinks he’ll be a problem for opposing defenses.
“It’s going to be harder for them to defend themselves,” Wall said. “For me, I’m happy because I don’t have to have the best player defending me every night like I’ve done my entire career.
“Are you telling me that the third best defender will have to defend me? Good luck.”
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John Wall on joining Clippers: ‘I won’t have to be Batman every night’